Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan

Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan

An enduring feature of Jordanian political life for more than fifty years, the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan was created as part of an effort by the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Hasan al-Banna’ (1906-1949) to form additional bases of support for his movement. In the early 1940s, members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood were sent to both Palestine and Jordan to establish new branches.

In 1946, the first Jordanian branch was founded in the town of Salt; further centers were then established in the capital, Amman, and the towns of Irbid and Kayak. The leaders of the new movement registered the organization under the Jordanian Charity Societies and Clubs Law. The leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood was indigenous, and the first head of the organization was a prominent cleric, Hajj `Abd al-Latif al-Qurah (d. 1953) Hajj al-Qurah led an eight-member majlis (ruling council), which directed organizational aspects of the new movement. This leadership structure mirrored that of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

In addition to legal registration, Hajj al-Qurah sought official approval from the Jordanian monarch for his fledgling organization. King Abdullah (r. 1946-1951) extended tacit approval to the organization but warned that benefaction would be rescinded if the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood strayed from the spiritual and became identifiable with Jordanian political affairs. At this point, the Muslim Brotherhood was essentially a religious organization. The steady politicization of Islamic clerics, which began in Egypt in the nineteenth century, was barely discernible in Jordan in the 1940s. Nevertheless, the very founding of the Muslim Brotherhood at this time indicated that a new generation of politically active Muslim clergy was ascendant.

The Islamic Message. The functional religious role of the Muslim Brotherhood permitted the movement to promote its ideology to all sectors of Jordanian society. Through its charitable activities, including the provision of health and welfare facilities in the kingdom, the new movement was able to disseminate its Islamic message. The Muslim Brotherhood’s message was a direct reflection of the prevailing philosophy it had embraced. Members should strive to educate society and encourage a return to Islamic values.

From 1946 until the outbreak of the war between the Arabs and Israel in 1948, the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan remained essentially unchanged. Following the war and the Jordanian annexation of the West Bank area of Palestine in 1950, the number of branches of the Muslim Brotherhood increased, as existing Islamic organizations active in the West Bank, including Ansar alFadil and al-I’tisam, were absorbed. As a result of this new, expanded base of support in the West Bank, the leadership and cadres of the Muslim Brotherhood became increasingly politicized.

Political Consolidation. Following the death of Hajj al-Qurah in 1953, a new leader was appointed for the movement. On assuming his new post, `Abd al-Rahman al-Khalifah (an attorney) approached the Jordanian prime minister, Tawfiq Pasha Abu al-Huda, with an application for an expansion of the mandate regarding the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood to facilitate the political and cultural propagation of the movement’s Islamic message. The license permitting the Muslim Brotherhood to be a general and comprehensive Islamic grouping was subsequently granted by the authorities.

What was most striking about the development of the Muslim Brotherhood under al-Khalifah was its relatively close relations with the ruling regime and the monarchy. During the period when the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was being repressed by the state, the conservative Jordanian regime found in its own branch of the Muslim Brotherhood a useful ally against the leftist movements sweeping through the region. However, the relationship between monarch and movement has been characterized by peaks and troughs and is for the most part motivated by political pragmatism rather than Islamic idealism.

The attitude of the regime toward the Muslim Brotherhood was further emphasized in 1957 when King Hussein issued a decree proscribing all political parties. The Muslim Brotherhood was exempted because the organization was officially registered as a charity, although in practice its activities were indistinguishable from those of any political party. Thus, the Muslim Brotherhood was free to continue with its own political agenda. Throughout this period it fielded individual candidates in elections to the bicameral legislative assembly. In 1962, the Muslim Brotherhood was the only organization to defy a West Bank boycott of the general election.

By 1964 the Muslim Brotherhood had also formed an umbrella organization called the Islamic Charitable Society, described by al-Khalifah as a charity rather than a political party. Nonetheless, the activities of the charity included the dissemination of Muslim Brotherhood ideology. By this time, the program of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan was almost identical to that of the organization in Egypt.

Pawns and Politics. Following the Arab-Israeli War of 1967, in which Jordan lost the West Bank and the Palestine Liberation Organization established strongholds among the refugee community of the East Bank, the relationship between the Muslim Brotherhood and the monarchy was strengthened. A relationship of de- of eighty seats in the parliament and that its Islamist counterparts had won an additional twelve; this total of thirty-four seats comprised the largest parliamentary bloc. The king’s policy of political cooptation had thus resulted in an Islamic majority in the country’s legislative assembly. The future stability of the regime was called into question, yet many failed to take into account the fact that the king still possessed the ultimate authority over the legislature (and therefore the Muslim Brotherhood): he could dissolve parliament at any time.

The Muslim Brothers greeted their election success with characteristic zeal. They set about forcing their political agenda through the legislature and into the statute books. Large amounts of parliamentary time were devoted to specifically Islamic issues, such as the banning of the production of alcohol. In essence it appeared that the Muslim Brotherhood’s response to the opportunities presented by its new political power was to concentrate on the areas of policy making that it knew best; thus, the Muslim Brotherhood lobbied for cabinet posts covering social, educational, and religious affairs. There did not appear to be any concerted attempt to tackle such issues as the economy, defense, or foreign affairs.

The outbreak of the Gulf War in 1990 signaled historic changes and challenges for the Muslim Brotherhood. The conflict presented the organization with the most difficult political dilemma in its history centering around the conflicting pressures from local constituents and financial backers in the conservative Gulf regimes. The Muslim Brotherhood initially condemned Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, but popular Islamic sentiment expressed in the streets of Amman soon persuaded the movement to alter its policy and support the Iraqi leader. This policy jeopardized the Muslim Brotherhood’s relationship with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, which had provided the bulk of its funding.

The fact that the king and the “loyal opposition” in the Muslim Brotherhood were on the losing side in the war has altered only regional rather than domestic political arrangements. The Muslim Brotherhood preserved and further legitimated its popular support. The Islamic message remains a broadly popular one and ensures an enduring future for the organization. However, in the final analysis, such endurance will always be dependent on King Hussein, and this factor makes the Jordanian movement unique with respect to any other branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

[See also Jordan.]

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Abidi, Aqil H. H. Jordan: A Political Study, 1948-1957. London, 1965. Dated but worthwhile account of Jordan in the 1950s. Aruri, Nasser Hasan. Jordan: A Study in Political Development, 19211957. The Hague, 1972. Introduction to the Jordanian political system.

Bailey, Clinton. Jordan’s Palestinian Challenge, 1948-1983. Boulder, 1984. Perceptive book addressing the issue of Jordanian Palestinians, who account for 50 percent of the kingdom’s population. Gubser, Peter. Jordan: Crossroads of Middle Eastern Events. Boulder, 1984. Interesting account of Jordan’s regional role.

Kilani, Musa Zayd al-. Al-Harakat al-Islamiyah fi al-Urdun (The Islamic Movements in Jordan). Amman, 1990.

Milton-Edwards, Beverley. “A Temporary Alliance with the Crown: The Islamic Response in Jordan.” In Islamic Fundamentalism and the Gulf Crisis, edited by J. P. Piscatori, pp. 88-108. Chicago, 1991. Insight on Jordan during the Gulf crisis.

Wilson, Rodney, ed. Politics and the Economy in Jordan. London, 1991. Collection of essays on the inextricable relation between political and economic development in the Hashemite kingdom.

BEVERLEY MILTON-EDWARDS

next: Muslim Brotherhood in Sudan

Muslim Brotherhood in Syria

Muslim Brotherhood in Syria

Throughout its fifty years of activity in Syria, the Muslim Brotherhood has been principally an opposition movement that has never held political power. The brotherhood traces its origins to the 1930s, when the Syrian people were engaged in their struggle to achieve national independence from French rule. The structural changes that Syria experienced during the interwar years were especially disruptive in the town quarters. Small merchants and artisans suffered under the weight of expanding European trade. The laboring classes found it increasingly difficult to feed their families because of the high inflation rates of the period. Uprooted rural dwellers in growing numbers entered the peripheral quarters of the towns, having been pushed off the land by drought or, more commonly, by indebtedness to absentee landowners and moneylenders. All sought the support of local leaders who could help them articulate their grievances and meet their needs. By this time, the leaders of the national independence movement had become increasingly distant from their urban constituencies, owing to their preoccupation with negotiations with the French Mandate authorities. This distance enabled newer, more radicalized groups to begin to challenge the leadership of the veteran nationalists.

To address the pressing social and psychological needs of the urban masses, the vast majority of whom belonged to the Sunni Muslim rite, there arose in the towns a variety of socially and politically active organizations, some of which were religious beneficent societies (jam’iyat) headed by men who had received formal religious training in Islamic law. The House of alArqam in Aleppo was one of these societies. On the eve of Syria’s independence, the House of al-Arqam moved its headquarters to Damascus, the Syrian capital, where it became known in 1944 as the Muslim Brotherhood (al-Ihkwan al-Muslimun). It is generally thought that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, which had been established in 1928, influenced the emergence of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria. Some Syrian students who had studied in Cairo became familiar with the ideas of Hasan al-Banna’, the Egyptian organization’s founder. One was Mustafa al-Siba’i, the Syrian brotherhood’s first general supervisor (al-muraqib al-`amm), who became acquainted with al-Banna’ in Cairo. Others were inspired by a tour of Syria made by members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in the mid-1930s.

The earliest goals of the Muslim Brotherhood were to spread Muslim education and ethics and to inculcate anti-imperialist feelings among the urban populace. It was through schools and magazines associated with the brotherhood that such ideas were disseminated. Its first published program in 1954 failed to offer a detailed strategic plan, dwelling instead on the goals of combating ignorance and deprivation and establishing a political regime based on Islamic law. For a period after Syria gained independence, the brotherhood put forward a vague notion of Islamic socialism but eventually abandoned it. Unlike the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the Syrian organization has never produced a systematically articulated set of principles and program of action. The closest it came to this achievement was the 1980 proclamation of the Syrian Islamic Front to which the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood belonged.

The Arab military defeat in Palestine in 1948 enabled the brotherhood to expand its following in the Syrian towns, especially in Damascus where its members controlled roughly a fifth of the parliamentary seats allotted to the capital and its environs in the 1950s. In this period, the brotherhood competed with Communists, Ba’thists, Nasserists, and other opponents of the veteran nationalists who had governed Syria since independence in 1946. The challenge posed by the Nasserist movement to the brotherhood was particularly effective because the two movements shared the same political constituency, the Sunni Muslim urban trading classes. Not surprisingly, the brotherhood supported Syria’s secession in 1961 from the Egyptian-dominated United Arab Republic, established in 1958. [See also Nasserism. ]

The Bath Party’s seizure of power in 1963 focused the Muslim Brotherhood’s opposition squarely on the radical, secular, nationalist regime’s socialist policies and its introduction of large numbers of rural peoples into the state bureaucracy. These measures not only upset the interests of urban absentee landowners, merchants and industrialists, middle-level bureaucrats, and the liberal professions, but also threatened the positions of the urban artisan and small trading classes that formed the main constituency of the Muslim Brotherhood. Religious leaders associated with the brotherhood promoted civil disobedience against the Ba’thist regime’s secular policies. But in the aftermath of Syria’s military defeat in the 1967 war with Israel and the establishment of Hafez al-Assad’s Ba’thist government in 1970, a schism developed within the brotherhood. Militants in Aleppo and Hama pressed for a policy of armed struggle against the Assad regime but they were countered by the Damascus followers of `Isam al-`Attar, a religious shaykh in the Syrian capital who had replaced Mustafa al-Siba`i in 1961 as general supervisor of the brotherhood. The `Attar wing of the organization had identified a certain convergence of interests between the urban artisan and trading classes that supported the brotherhood in Damascus and the Assad regime’s gradual adoption of economic liberalization and its willingness to attract to Syria investments from the Arab oilproducing states of the Persian Gulf.

The Syrian regime’s honeymoon with the Damascus branch of the Muslim Brotherhood did not last long. President Assad’s secular constitution of 1973 provoked widespread protests in the Syrian towns led by the brotherhood and forced him to amend the constitution to require that the president had to be Muslim. By the mid-1970s, the northern militants in the brotherhood had gained the upper hand over the Damascus branch; during the next seven years they escalated the level of violence against the Assad regime. This phase in the Muslim Brotherhood’s struggle against the Syrian government was closely identified with the leadership of `Adnan Sa’d al-Din, a teacher and writer from the central Syrian town of Hama, who had become the brotherhood’s newest general supervisor. Several factors prompted the brotherhood to adopt a strategy of armed struggle (jihdd): the Syrian government’s intervention in 1976 in the Lebanese civil war against the Palestinians and their Lebanese Muslim allies; growing corruption stemming from the government’s economic liberalization policies; and, above all, the increased power that the president’s own rural-based community of `Alawis, a religious minority who constituted only io percent of the Syrian population, had achieved at the expense of the country’s Sunni majority, and especially the Sunnis of the towns. From this time onward, the brotherhood’s opposition was defined as one of Sunni majority against `Alawi minority and of town against countryside.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s tactics at first focused on assassinating `Alawi officials but soon expanded into armed attacks on prominent institutional symbols of the Assad regime including Bath Party offices, police stations, and army units. Most notable were the June 1979 killing of eighty-three `Alawi artillery cadets in Aleppo, large-scale demonstrations and boycotts in Aleppo, Hama, and Homs in March 1980 and an attempt to assassinate Assad himself later that year. Those who carried out the violence against the regime and its supporters tended to be university students, school teachers, and members of the liberal professions. Their leaders were also engineers, dentists, and teachers who came from small trading families and the middle levels of the Muslim religious establishment.

To counter this violent opposition, the Syrian government decreed in July 198o that any association with the Muslim Brotherhood was punishable by death. It began to crack down on the brotherhood with its formidable military resources, in particular its dreaded security forces composed almost exclusively of `Alawis. Under this pressure, the Muslim Brotherhood regrouped under the banner of the Syrian Islamic Front (al-Jabhah alIslamiyah fi Suriyah), a broad-based alliance of Islamic opposition groups established in October 198o and headed by the brotherhood. Shaykh Muhammad alBayanuni, a member of the religious establishment in Aleppo, became the Islamic Front’s secretary-general, but its strongman was `Adnan Sa`d al-Din, the brotherhood’s general supervisor. The front’s chief ideologue was Said Hawwa, a religious figure from Hama who, with Sa’d al-Din, had been a leader of the northern militant faction that had taken control of the brotherhood in the mid-1970s.

The culmination of five years of terror and counterterror was a showdown between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Syrian regime in February 1982 in the socially conservative Sunni stronghold of Hama. There the brotherhood sparked an armed uprising and seized control of the town in its strongest bid ever to challenge the Assad regime’s legitimacy. Within two weeks, the regime had restored its authority over Hama, but not before its military forces killed between five thousand and twenty thousand inhabitants of Hama and razed large sections of this ancient town. Assad’s regime had dealt a devastating blow to the brotherhood and in so doing put all its political opponents on notice that it would not countenance any challenges to its rule. The lesson of Hama appears to have been taken to heart for little has since been heard from the Muslim Brotherhood.

Unlike the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt that struck roots in both town and countryside, in Syria the brotherhood was exclusively urban based. This can be explained in part by the fact that the Syrian countryside was to a large extent populated by heterodox sects such as the `Alawis, Druze, and Isma’ilis. The Syrian brotherhood specifically appealed to townsmen from the class of small tradesmen and artisans. This class has long been closely intertwined with the Sunni religious shaykhs attached to the neighborhood mosques that are located in the heart of the local suqs or bazaars where small tradesmen and artisans work and live. The religious shaykhs provided the brotherhood with many of its leaders over the years and with the strong religious values to which its membership subscribed. Because many shaykhs from the middle rungs of the religious establishment also earned their livings as traders, they, like their followers, supported free enterprise and thus stood in opposition to the socialist and quasi-socialist reformism of the Ba’thist governments that have ruled Syria since 1963.

In the 1970s, when the Muslim Brotherhood became the most visible and powerful opponent of the Assad regime, it attracted to its ranks large numbers of students, school teachers, engineers, and other members of the liberal professions, many of whom came from small urban trading families. These elements contributed to the organization’s increased militancy in this period and to a noticeable generation gap between its younger, better educated militant youth and their elders. Only rough estimates exist for the size of the Muslim Brotherhood. Although its numbers have fluctuated widely over the decades, it probably reached its maximum size of around ten thousand during the late 1970s. The Syrian government’s efforts to destroy the organization by military and legal means reduced its ranks to fewer than five thousand on the eve of the Hama uprising in 1982 and to far fewer afterward. Since then the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood has been in exile and its rank and file underground in Syria.

The ideological orientation of the Muslim Brotherhood is best summed up in the Islamic Front’s proclamation of November 198o. Although it was designed to appeal to all political opponents of the Assad regime, the proclamation nonetheless pointed to several specific positions that the brotherhood had adopted over the years. It raised the prospects of civil war along Sunni`Alawi lines unless the leaders of the `Alawi community rejected Hafez al-Assad’s political leadership. It emphasized the Syrian people’s right to regain their basic political and civil liberties, which were described as being as important as the people’s right to basic economic security, of which they had also been stripped. It called for an independent judiciary and for a government based on the rule of law and on the Islamic principle of mutual consultation (shura). And it emphasized the importance of jihad (struggle in the name of Islam) as a means for ending sectarianism and establishing an Islamic state in Syria. Many of the values and directions highlighted in the proclamation were not exclusively Islamic in character, particularly those that emphasized natural rights and liberties. In this sense, the brotherhood was in step with a wide variety of opposition groups throughout the Middle East that had already made individual freedoms their highest political priority as they struggled against the authoritarian governments that dominated the region.

Economic policies were also stressed in the proclamation. It insisted on the reintroduction of the ownership of private land and on giving workers ownership rights of public industries. The emphasis was clearly on buttressing private enterprise and reducing state controls over the movement of capital and the running of industry. The Islamic Front’s economic orientation closely corresponded to the defined interests of the Sunni trading and manufacturing classes in the Syrian towns, major contributors to the membership and coffers of the Muslim Brotherhood. They strongly opposed the government’s economic favoritism toward the military, workers in modern industries, and rural minorities, especially the `Alawis.

Since the Muslim Brotherhood’s crushing defeat in Hama in 1982, its political prospects have not been promising. The strategy of armed struggle proved to be a major blunder from which the organization has yet to recover. Divisions within its leadership over whether to continue or abandon its militant tactics and over the Islamic Front’s relations with neighboring states also contributed to its fragility. Outside support has not been forthcoming. Soon after coming to power in Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini disappointed the brotherhood when he made it clear that his government supported the Syrian regime because it was the only major Arab state to side with Iran in its war with Iraq that began in 198o. Iraq’s victory over Iran in 1988 briefly freed the rival Ba’thist regime of Saddam Hussein to resume its efforts to destabilize the Assad regime, but Iraq’s defeat in the Persian Gulf war in early 1991 has, for the time being, drastically reduced its threat to Syria. The best prospects for external support have come in recent years from Jordan where Islamic movements have expanded their political influence.

Ultimately, the Muslim Brotherhood’s ability to resume its leadership of the Syrian opposition will depend on how successfully President Assad and his `Alawi supporters continue to wield the carrot and the stick. In the new post-cold war era, the Syrian regime no longer enjoys the patronage and protection of the former Soviet Union. American pressures on Syria to negotiate a less than advantageous settlement with Israel, especially in the aftermath of the Palestinian-Israeli peace initiative of 1993, and the continued fragility of the Syrian economy may well reduce the Assad regime’s already narrow base of support, encouraging its opponents to resume their struggle. The visible but limited political successes registered by Islamic movements in other Arab countries offer Assad’s opponents some hope. These are the kinds of conditions that may enable the Muslim Brotherhood to reemerge in Syria.

[See also Syria and the biography of Siba`i.]

Carre, Olivier. Les freres musulmans: Egypte et Syrie, 1928-1982. Paris, 1983. Comparative study of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Syria over a fifty-year span.

Commins, David D. Islamic Reform: Politics and Social Change in Late Ottoman Syria. New York, 1990. Informative study of the Islamic societies and movements that were precursors of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Dam, Nikolaos van. The Struggle for Power in Syria: Sectarianism, Regionalism, and Tribalism in Politics, 1961-1978. London, 1979. Dekmejian, R. Hrair. “Syria: Sunni Fundamentalism against Baathi Rule.” In Islam in Revolution: Fundamentalism in the Arab World, pp. 109-125. Syracuse, N.Y., 1985. Insightful analysis of the Muslim Brotherhood’s struggle for power and the nature of its leadership.

Hinnebusch, Raymond A. “The Islamic Movement in Syria: Sectarian Conflict and Urban Rebellion in an Authoritarian-Populist Regime.” In Islamic Resurgence in the Arab World, edited by Ali E. Hillal Dessouki, pp. 138-169. New York, 1982. Excellent overview of the place of Islamic movements during the past three decades. Kelidar, Abbas. “Religion and State in Syria.” Asian Affairs 61 (February 1974): 16-22. Useful account of the conflict of religion and state at the time of the Syrian constitutional crisis in 1973. Khoury, Philip S. Syria and the French Mandate: The Politics of Arab Nationalism, 1920-1945. Princeton, 1987. Comprehensive study of interwar politics and society in the period when the Muslim Brotherhood first emerged.

Mayer, Thomas. “The Islamic Opposition in Syria, 1961-1982.” Orient 24 (December 1983): 589-609. Useful examination of the conflict between the Ba’thist regime and the Muslim Brotherhood over a twenty-year span.

Mitchell, Richard P. The Society of the Muslim Brothers London, 1969. Remains the best study of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Perera, Judith. “The Shifting Fortunes of Syria’s Muslim Brothers.” Middle East (London) (May 1985): 25-28.

Reissner, Johannes. Ideologie and Politik der Muslimbriider Syriens. Freiburg, 198o. Unique study of the intellectual origins and ideological development of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria in the 1940s and 1950s.

Seale, Patrick. Asad: The Struggle for the Middle East. Berkeley, 1988. Fascinating biography of Syrian president Hafez al-Assad based on a wide variety of sources, including extensive interviews with the subject.

Seale, Patrick. The Struggle for Syria: A Study of Post-War Arab Politics, 1945-1958. London and New York, 1965. Remains the most perceptive account of Syrian politics in the postindependence period.

PHILIP S. KHouRY

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Abd-Allah, Umar F. The Islamic Struggle in Syria. Berkeley, 1983. The most comprehensive study of modern Syrian Islamic movements available in the English language.

Batatu, Hanna. “Syria’s Muslim Brethren.” MERIP Reports 12.9 (November-December 1982): 12-20, 34, 36. Penetrating social analysis of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria.

Next:

Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan

Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt

Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt
Contemporary Islamic social and political activism in Egypt is rooted in the founding in 1928 by Hasan alBanna’ of Jam’iyat al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun (Society of Muslim Brothers; also known as the Muslim Brotherhood or the Ikhwan). From the beginning, the Ikhwan’s goals were both social and political, promoting the causes of benevolence, charity, and development, on the one hand, and nationalism, independence, and Islamism, on the other. Throughout the Ikhwan’s nearly seventy-year history, “Islamism” has consistently meant the reform of society. More recently, this goal has been expanded to include the full establishment of shad ah (Islamic law). To achieve such goals, the tactics used by various groupings within the Ikhwan have ranged from activism and proregime political accommodation to militancy and antiregime assassinations and violence; from philanthropy and economic institution building to accommodation with opposition political parties.
Although Islamism and nationalism theoretically should be seen as mutually exclusive, in fact the Ikhwan has pursued both simultaneously. According to the Ikhwan, Egypt is “a part of the general Arab nation [watan], and when we act for Egypt, we act for Arabism, the East, and for Islam” (Mitchell, 1969, p. 264).
Hasan al-Banna’ and the Founding of the Ikhwan. Hasan al-Banna’ was born in October 1906 in Buhayrah Province, northeast of Cairo. His father was imam and teacher at the local mosque. By his early teen years, alBanna’ was committed to Sufism, teaching, organizing for the cause of Islam, nationalism, and activism. As an organizer, he worked with various societies. At the age of twelve, in his hometown of Mahmudiyah, he became the leader of the Society for Moral Behavior and soon thereafter, a member of the Hasafiyah Sufi order. At age thirteen, he was named secretary of the Hasafiyah
Society for Charity, whose goals were to preserve Islamic morality and resist Christian missionaries. Ahmad al-Sukkari, head of the order, later helped al-Banna’ develop the idea of the Ikhwan.
Al-Banna’ came of age as Sa’d Zaghlul and his Wafd Party agitated for independence from Great Britain and for a liberal political experiment. He entered Dar al’Ulum (Teacher’s College) in Cairo in 1923 and graduated in 1927 at the age of twenty-one. He received a modern education in the sciences, as well as a continuation of his classical Islamic learning. Combined with the extracurricular influences of Sufism, the thought of Muhammad Rashid Rida and the Salafiyah movement, nationalism, and his father’s instruction, al-Banna’ developed a diverse intellectual basis for his own mission. This development continued with his first job, teaching Arabic in a primary school in Isma’iliyah, the heart of the British-occupied Suez Canal Zone.
A teacher by day to schoolchildren, al-Banna’ was active at night instructing the parents and elders of Isma’iliyah, especially laborers, small merchants, and civil servants. Beyond the school and mosque, al-Banna’ held discussion groups in coffeehouses and other popular meeting places. He was equally active in lobbying the power brokers of his new community, the `ulama’) shaykhs of Sufi orders, leading families, and social and religious organizations or clubs.
Al-Banna’ was deeply troubled by the foreign presence in Isma`iliyah. His nationalist sentiments were merged with anticolonialism, as he spoke against British military occupation, the Suez Canal Company, foreign control of public utilities, and the extreme gap between the luxurious lifestyles of foreign owners and managers and the miserable conditions of Egyptian employees and servants.
But it was in the capital where al-Banna’s service to the message of Islam would be most needed and where it had its greatest chance for success. In 1927, he supported the creation in Cairo of the Young Men’s Muslim Association. In March 1928, in Isma`illyah, he founded his own Society of Muslim Brothers.
The first four years of the organization’s existence were used to solidify support in and around Isma`iliyah. Al-Banna’ and fellow members toured the countryside preaching the message of Islam in mosques, homes, the workplace, clubs and coffeehouses. Branches were established in Port Said and Suez City, and other contacts were made in Cairo and parts of the Nile Delta. A headquarters was established, and separate schools for boys and for girls were built, along with mosques, clubs, and small home industries.
Al-Banna’ was denounced by various groups as a communist, a Wafdist, an antimonarchist republican, and a criminal violating civil-service regulations governing the collection of money. However, he was consistently cleared of the allegations of criminal misconduct leveled against him, some by dissidents in his own organization. In 1932, he was transferred to Cairo, where he joined his brother, `Abd al-Rahman al-Banna’, and his Society for Islamic Culture. The two brothers merged their operations to form the first branch of the Ikhwan in Cairo.
The 1930s was a time for organization building, honing the message of the Ikhwan, and developing print media to spread the message throughout and beyond the membership. It was also a time of political activism, as al-Banna’ began to communicate directly with kings (Fu’ad and Farouk [Faruq]), prime ministers (particularly Mustafa al-Nahhas Pasha), and heads of all Arab governments. The message was one of reforming government and society in the spirit and letter of Islam. The Ikhwan also became active in raising funds to aid Palestinian Arabs in their resistance to Zionism, in particular to maintain the Arab Strike of 1936-1939
In the 1940s, the Ikhwan was the most popular and respected of the nationalist forces in fighting against British imperialism and military occupation and in the growing struggle against Zionism in Palestine. The Wafd and the palace, having been too closely associated with the British, were by now discredited as nationalist forces.
Beyond al-Banna’. The leaders and theoreticians of the Ikhwan are among the most influential of Egypt’s twentieth-century political figures. After his assassination by police on 12 February 1949, Hasan al-Banna’ was succeeded as general guide (murshid `amm) by Hasan al-Hudaybi (1949-1972) a judge and an outsider to the Muslim Brotherhood. His son, Ma’mun alHudaybi, has been the official spokesperson of the Ikhwan since the mid-1980s, although the supreme leadership remained with `Umar al-Tilimsani (1972-1986), the third general guide, and Hamid Abu al-Nasr, his successor.
The most famous theoretician of the brotherhood is Sayyid Qutb, who joined the Ikhwan after al-Banna’s assassination in 1949, was chief spokesman for the brotherhood after its second dissolution in 1954, and was himself executed by the regime of President Gamal
Abdel Nasser in 1966. Qutb was influenced by the Pakistani theologian, Sayyid Abu al-A’la Mawdudi, and in turn influenced the thoughts of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran, as well as such Egyptian militant groups as al-Takfir wa al-Hijrah and al-Jihad, the latter responsible for the assassination of Anwar el-Sadat in 1981. Qutb’s principal concern was for the use of jihad (struggle), against Jahili (ignorant or pagan) societies, both Western and so-called Islamic ones, that were in need of radical transformation. Having lived in the United States for two years in the late 1940s, he had become disenchanted with what he saw as the moral decadence of Western civilization and its anti-Arab bias. He moved into a leadership role in the Ikhwan and paved the way for confrontation with the Nasser regime.
The Free Officers and other army officials had strong contacts with the Ikhwan well before the 1952 coup. Sadat had been the principal liaison between the two groups until the early 1940s and was replaced in 1942 by `Abd al-Mun’im `Abd al-Ra’uf, who was both a dedicated member of the Ikhwan and a Free Officer. The 1954 assassination attempt against Nasser, purportedly by a member of the Ikhwan, put a quick and final end to the accommodation between the two groups. It also allowed Nasser to displace General Muhammad Neguib, titular head of the Free Officers, whose name was linked with the Ikhwan. The brotherhood was disbanded and its activities prohibited by Nasser. Thousands of brothers were imprisoned. Several were hanged in 1954, and several more in the 1960s Many remained in prison for seventeen years.
Sadat, after succeeding Nasser in 197o and in need of support against leftists in his government, rehabilitated the Ikhwan and sought its support. He released members of the brotherhood in 1971, including al-Tilimsani, whom Nasser had imprisoned. Yet Sadat refused to grant the Ikhwan unconditional legal status as a political party or as a jam`iyah (private voluntary organization [PVO]) registered with the Ministry of Social Affairs. In 1979, in the midst of increasing criticism by the brotherhood of his peace initiative with Israel, Sadat offered to confer PVO status on the Ikhwan, as well as to appoint al-Tilimsani to the Shura Council (upper chamber of parliament), on condition that the brothers moderate their criticism of his policies. Al-Tilimsani rejected this overture, as it would have placed his society under direct governmental control and given the Ministry of Social Affairs the ability to dissolve the organization at will, confiscate its properties, and change its board of directors. Al-Tilimsani would also have been beholden to the president rather than a voting membership or public.
Al-Tilimsani and the other top leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood were among the approximately 1,500 arrested by Sadat in September 1981. Two-thirds of this total were from the brotherhood and other Islamic groups. The leadership was released after Sadat’s assassination on 6 October. The Ikhwdn was not implicated in that violence and had by this time established itself as a nonviolent opposition movement. With this new image and reality, al-Tilimsani made a concerted effort to move the organization into the mainstream of political and social life in Egypt. Under his leadership, the brotherhood accepted political pluralism and parliamentary democracy. Unable to form its own party because of Egypt’s party law, the Ikhwdn formed an alliance with the Wafd Party in the 1984 parliamentary elections. This alliance gained 65 seats (out of 450), seven of which were earmarked for Muslim Brothers. This victory made these often uncomfortable allies the primary opposition group against the ruling party, President Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP).
By 1987, the coalition collapsed and the Muslim Brotherhood formed a new Islamic Alliance with the Socialist Labor Party and the Liberal Party to contest that year’s parliamentary elections. The brotherhood had the dominant position in this alliance. The first priority in the Ikhwan’s ten-point platform was the implementation of shard `ah (divine law). The only campaign slogan for the alliance was “al-Islam huwa al-hall” (“Islam is the solution”). The brothers also reached out to Egypt’s Coptic Christian community. The second of their ten points called for “full equal rights and obligations between Muslims and their Coptic brothers.” Moreover, the only Copt at the top of any party list and elected in 1987 was on the Islamic Alliance list. (The Ikhwdn joined with most of the other opposition parties in boycotting the 1990 elections.) This political moderation and willingness to approach constitutional reform through gradual means have placed the Ikhwdn in the forefront of public debate over the most crucial issues in Egypt, especially the question of the appropriate role of religion in politics and society.
The publications of the Ikhwan over the years have also had a significant impact on the course of public debate. Hasan al-Bannd’ knew the importance of communication, both to spread his message and to refute official or other adversarial reports about him and his organization. Since 1933 and the publication of Majallat al-Ikhwdn al-Muslimun (Magazine of the Muslim Brothers), the society has struggled against government censorship and internal divisions to produce a host of newsletters, magazines, and journals. These include: Al-nadhir (The Warner; 1938-1939) Al-manar (The Lighthouse; 1939-1941), previously the organ of the Salafiyah movement and Muhammad Rashid Ridd; AlIkhwan al-Muslimun (The Muslim Brothers; 19421948), first a biweekly then a daily newspaper; and Alshihab (The Meteor; 1946-1948), a research journal. The last two were suspended in 1948 when the Muslim Brotherhood was dissolved for the first time.
Al-da’wah (The Call) appeared from 1951 to 1956, struggling in the last two years in an atmosphere of government censorship and, finally, the official disbanding of the Ikhwdn. In 1976, Al-da’wah, along with other religious and oppositional publications, were allowed to publish again, as Sadat sought to demonstrate to Western supporters his commitment to political as well as economic liberalization. In addition to a campaign against the Camp David peace process, which was portrayed as humiliating and degrading to Egypt, and against Sadat’s reform of family law and women’s rights, Al-da`wah kept up a steady campaign for the more general goals of Islamic renewal of society and full implementation of shard `ah. Sadat banned this publication in September 1981 during his infamous crackdown on opposition leaders and others. In the mid-1980s, the Ikhwdn launched another effort, Liwa’ al-Islam (The Banner of Islam), a weekly publication. This would-be successor to Al-da’wah was also banned (temporarily) during the 1990-1991 Gulf War, owing in part to its criticism of Egypt’s participation in the U.S.-led coalition against Iraq.
Connections with Other Groups. The Muslim Brotherhood has had its share of internal disputes, some of which have resulted in the branching off of some members to form other Islamic groups. The only such split (though there were several disputes) in al-Banna’s time was the founding, in 1939, of Jam’iyat Shabab Sayyidind Muhammad (Society of Muhammad’s Youth). In 1945, after the passage of Law 49 governing PVOs, the society divided itself into two parts: the politically active section that continued under al-Banna’s leadership and a section concerned with welfare and social services that had its own leadership and structure. This charitable section continued to receive governmental assistance for its efforts in running schools, technical institutes, small industries, social work, hospitals, clinics, and dispensaries. Earlier, in 1942-1943, al-Banna’ had established alnizam al-khdss (“special section”), a secret apparatus inspired by the notion of jihdd and used as an instrument for the defense of Islam and of the society itself against police and various governments.
Other Islamist groups in Egypt either are offshoots of the Ikhwan or share its general goals of Islamic reform and implementation of shari`ah. Whether these groups are direct descendants of the Muslim Brotherhood, as some argue, or are independently founded and administered, most would agree that the Society of Muslim Brothers is the theological, if not political, grandparent of the numerous Islamist groupings in Egypt. They differ mainly in tactics, not goals. Many advocate violence and militancy, although the Ikhwan, since the 1970s, has advocated gradualism and working within the system in order to change it. (Still, there are divisions within the society over this issue.) The various Islamist groups include: al-Jihad (Holy Struggle), Jund Allah (God’s Troops), Jaysh al-Tahrir al-Islami (Islamic Liberation Army), Jam`iyat al-Tabligh (Society of Islamic Propagation), al-Takfir wa al-Hijrah (former Ikhwanmember Shukri Mustafa’s Society of Muslims), and al-Jama’at al-Islamiyah (Islamic Groups), among others. [See also Takfir wa al-Hijrah, Jama`at al-; -Jama’at alIslamiyah, al-.]
Many Egyptians claim to have no formal relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood yet support their goals and ideals. One of the more prominent of these is the popular religious leader Shaykh `Abd al-Hamid Kishk (b. 1933), who was a strong critic of Sadat’s government, its dependence on the United States, and its peace with Israel. His Friday sermons have been widely attended and distributed through tape recordings. As critical as he is of the government, he is equally supportive of the Ikhwan and other Islamic PVOs that provide affordable health care, day care, education, job training, development projects, access to credit, and other programs to help Egyptians. Kishk praises these efforts as he criticizes the government for its inability to provide for the needs of the vast majority of the Egyptian people. [See the biography of Kishk.]
Zaynab al-Ghazali (b. 1917), the most prominent woman associated with the Ikhwan and a regular contributor to Al-da’wah, is a fierce opponent of the feminist movement and a promoter of traditional Islamic values for women and men. She maintains that women can have an important public role as long as it is in the defense of Islam and traditional Islamic values. [See the biography of Ghazali]
The Muslim Brotherhood has mass appeal. Students, professors, doctors, lawyers, and other professionals have demonstrated their support for the organization in numerous elections on campuses and especially in syndicate and union elections.
The Ikhwan has had considerable influence beyond the borders of Egypt as well. There are or were strong branches of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine (founded in 1946), Jordan (licensed in 1953), Syria (c. 1935) Sudan, and Iraq. Egypt’s Ikhwan also had significant influence on other Islamist organizations not formally known as Muslim Brotherhood groups, most notably the Islami Jami’at-i Tulaba (Islamic Society of Students), a wing of the Jama’at-i Islam! (Islamic Party) of Pakistan.
Although various governments-monarchical and republican-have outlawed and restricted its activities, the very success and continuing popularity of the Ikhwan demonstrates to Egyptians and their government that Islamic groups in general can derive legitimacy from the positive influence they exert on the daily lives of the population. The government has thus resolved to deny legal recognition to the Ikhwan as either a political party or a Jam’iyah, but its de facto existence is accepted. The Ikhwan works within the present political and economic systems but must still work through other legal organizations-whether political parties or oncelegal economic enterprises, such as al-Rayan Investment Company-to pursue its dual goals of socioeconomic development and political influence.
[See also Egypt and the biographies of Banna’ and Qutb]
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Ayubi, Nazih N. Political Islam: Religion and Politics in the Arab World. London, 1991. In its numerous case studies of Islamic movements, this book provides analysis of the Brotherhood in Egypt, Syria, Sudan, Jordan, Palestine, and Arabia.
Baker, Raymond William. Sadat and After: Struggles for Egypt’s Political Soul. Cambridge, Mass., 1990 Chapter 8 deals with the Muslim Brothers in the 1970s and 1980s.
Banna’, Hasan al-. Mudhakkarat al-da’wah wa-al-da’iyah. N.p., c. 1951.
Esposito, John L. Islam and Politics. 3d ed. Syracuse, N.Y., 1991. Extensive analysis of the development of the Brotherhood as an alternative to secular nationalism in Egypt and beyond.
Hoffman, Valerie J. “An Islamic Activist: Zaynab al-Ghazali.” In Women and the Family in the Middle East, edited by Elizabeth W. Fernea, pp. 233-254. Austin, 1985.
pendency was forming, and during times of crisis, such as Black September in 1970, when the Jordanian army fought Palestinian guerrillas, the king was able to rely on the Muslim Brotherhood to be among his staunchest allies. However, by the end of the decade, the king was using the Muslim Brotherhood as a pawn in his foreign policy.
In 1980, as part of a continuing dispute between Jordan and Syria, the king encouraged al-Khallfah to establish paramilitary bases in the north of Jordan for the purpose of training members of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood in a campaign to undermine the rule of President Hafez al-Assad. By allowing this training to occur on Jordanian soil, the king increased diplomatic and military tensions with Syria, resulting in a state of near-war, as Syrian and Jordanian troops were moved to the common border between the two countries.
The role of the Muslim Brotherhood during the crisis with Syria served to increase the political profile and legitimacy of the movement domestically. Support from local and foreign sponsors-including the Gulf statesfor the organization’s charitable activities, such as the building of an Islamic hospital in Amman, increased. In the sphere of political activities, the Muslim Brotherhood began to criticize openly aspects of the regime; corruption within the ruling elite, public immorality, and insensitivity to religious life were the main issues around which the Muslim Brotherhood organized its protest. However, the movement miscalculated the king’s response to this critique.
In 1985 the king publicly distanced himself from the Muslim Brotherhood in response to indirect attacks on his legitimacy as monarch and (more important) as political ruler. In a political climate of improved relations with Syria, King Hussein identified “Islamic elements” as responsible for the crisis in relations in 198o. He alleged that he had been misled by the Muslim Brothers and that their activities had been guided by foreign and hostile influences. He issued orders against the Muslim Brotherhood as a show of political strength. Muslim Brothers found themselves targeted by the Jordanian intelligence services as potential threats to the stability of the regime and witnessed government action against leaders of the movement; members of the movement were arrested, lost their jobs, or had their passports confiscated by the Jordanian intelligence services. It was the intention of the king to send a very clear message to the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood: he was willing to permit and even tacitly encourage a legitimate Islamic presence within the kingdom, but he was not willing to tolerate the Muslim Brotherhood if it sought to undermine the legitimacy of his rule in any way.
Democratization and Political Pluralism. The deterioration of relations between the regime and the Muslim Brotherhood was resolved by the end of the 1980s, followed by a discernible improvement in relations. It became apparent that rather than isolate the movement the king had decided on a policy which would ultimately coopt the Muslim Brotherhood into the ruling strata of the regime. This policy was facilitated by the king’s decision in 1989 to hold the first full elections in over twenty-two years.
The call for the election was precipitated by a severe economic crisis within the kingdom which culminated in riots against government-imposed price rises on basic foodstuffs. The crisis was the result of decades of economic mismanagement within Jordan, and genuine hardships were thrust on the poorer sections of society. The Muslim Brotherhood’s critique of the early 1980s proved justified, a matter which took on added significance in view of the fact that its base of support was among the rural and urban poor, who were being asked to pay for the economic incompetence of the ruling oligarchy.
The king’s decision to hold elections as a response to the riots came as a surprise. It indicated that the Jordanian monarch was willing to institute democratization and political pluralism. It also meant that the king was, at least publicly, willing to surrender his monopoly of control over political life.
The Muslim Brothers perceived the general election as an opportunity to increase their political stake in the regime. The organization mounted a comprehensive election campaign under the slogan, “Islam is the solution.” The Muslim Brotherhood started the campaign with advantages over its political rivals. It had a constituency of support among the urban and rural poor. The brotherhood also appealed to the religiously conservative educated class, which was frustrated because of a lack of job opportunities and real prospects for social advancement. Furthermore, the Muslim Brotherhood had been politically active for decades, while its adversaries in the elections remained proscribed and repressed.
The results of the election, therefore, should not have been surprising. Nevertheless, there was consternation in the kingdom when it was announced that the Muslim Brotherhood had won enough votes for twenty-two out industries, social work, hospitals, clinics, and dispensaries. Earlier, in 1942-1943, al-Banna’ had established alnizam al-khass (“special section”), a secret apparatus inspired by the notion of jihad and used as an instrument for the defense of Islam and of the society itself against police and various governments.
Other Islamist groups in Egypt either are offshoots of the Ikhwan or share its general goals of Islamic reform and implementation of shari’ah. Whether these groups are direct descendants of the Muslim Brotherhood, as some argue, or are independently founded and administered, most would agree that the Society of Muslim Brothers is the theological, if not political, grandparent of the numerous Islamist groupings in Egypt. They differ mainly in tactics, not goals. Many advocate violence and militancy, although the Ikhwan, since the 1970s, has advocated gradualism and working within the system in order to change it. (Still, there are divisions within the society over this issue.) The various Islamist groups include: al-Jihad (Holy Struggle), Jund Allah (God’s Troops), Jaysh al-Tahrir al-Islami (Islamic Liberation Army), Jam’iyat al-Tabligh (Society of Islamic Propagation), al-Takfir wa al-Hijrah (former Ikhwanmember Shukri Mustafa’s Society of Muslims), and alJama’at al-Islamlyah (Islamic Groups), among others. [See also Takfir wa al-Hijrah, Jama’at al-; Jama’at alIslamlyah, al-.]
Many Egyptians claim to have no formal relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood yet support their goals and ideals. One of the more prominent of these is the popular religious leader Shaykh `Abd al-Hamid Kishk (b. 1933), who was a strong critic of Sadat’s government, its dependence on the United States, and its peace with Israel. His Friday sermons have been widely attended and distributed through tape recordings. As critical as he is of the government, he is equally supportive of the Ikhwan and other Islamic PVOs that provide affordable health care, day care, education, job training, development projects, access to credit, and other programs to help Egyptians. Kishk praises these efforts as he criticizes the government for its inability to provide for the needs of the vast majority of the Egyptian people. [See the biography of Kishk.]
Zaynab al-Ghazali (b. 1917), the most prominent woman associated with the Ikhwan and a regular contributor to Al-da`wah, is a fierce opponent of the feminist movement and a promoter of traditional Islamic values for women and men. She maintains that women can have an important public role as long as it is in the defense of Islam and traditional Islamic values. [See the biography of Ghazah.]
The Muslim Brotherhood has mass appeal. Students, professors, doctors, lawyers, and other professionals have demonstrated their support for the organization in numerous elections on campuses and especially in syndicate and union elections.
The Ikhwan has had considerable influence beyond the borders of Egypt as well. There are or were strong branches of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine (founded in 1946), Jordan (licensed in 1953), Syria (c. 1935) Sudan, and Iraq. Egypt’s Ikhwan also had significant influence on other Islamist organizations not formally known as Muslim Brotherhood groups, most notably the Islami Jami’at-i Tulaba (Islamic Society of Students), a wing of the Jama`at-i Islami (Islamic Party) of Pakistan.
Although various governments-monarchical and republican-have outlawed and restricted its activities, the very success and continuing popularity of the Ikhwan demonstrates to Egyptians and their government that Islamic groups in general can derive legitimacy from the positive influence they exert on the daily lives of the population. The government has thus resolved to deny legal recognition to the Ikhwan as either a political party or a jam’iyah, but its de facto existence is accepted. The Ikhwan works within the present political and economic systems but must still work through other legal organizations-whether political parties or oncelegal economic enterprises, such as al-Rayan Investment Company-to pursue its dual goals of socioeconomic development and political influence.
[See also Egypt and the biographies of Bannd’ and Qutb.]
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Ayubi, Nazih N. Political Islam: Religion and Politics in the Arab World. London, 1991. In its numerous case studies of Islamic movements, this book provides analysis of the Brotherhood in Egypt, Syria, Sudan, Jordan, Palestine, and Arabia.
Baker, Raymond William. Sadat and After: Struggles for Egypt’s Political Soul. Cambridge, Mass., 1990. Chapter 8 deals with the Muslim Brothers in the 1970s and 1980s.
Banna’, Hasan al-. Mudhakkarat al-da’wah wa-al-da’iyah. N.p., c. 1951.
Esposito, John L. Islam and Politics. 3d ed. Syracuse, N.Y., 1991. Extensive analysis of the development of the Brotherhood as an alternative to secular nationalism in Egypt and beyond.
Hoffman, Valerie J. “An Islamic Activist: Zaynab al-Ghazali.” In Women and the Family in the Middle East, edited by Elizabeth W. Fernea, pp. 233-254. Austin, 1985.
Husayni, Musd Ishaq al-. Al-Ikhwdn al-Muslimun: Kubrd al-harakdt al-Islamiyah al-hadithah. Beirut, 1952. Translated by John F. Brown et al., The Moslem Brethren. Beirut, 1956.
Ibrahim, Saad Eddin. “Egypt’s Islamic Activism in the 1980s.” Third World Quarterly 10.2 (April 1988): 632-657.
Kepel, Gilles. Muslim Extremism in Egypt. Berkeley, 1985. Compares the neo-Muslim Brotherhood with the original leadership of the Ikhwdn and with leaders of other contemporary Islamic organizations in Egypt.
Mitchell, Richard P. The Society of the Muslim Brothers. London, 1969. The most detailed and authoritative account of the founding, development, and program of the Ikhwdn.
Qutb, Sayyid. Al-`adala al-ijtima`iyah fi al-Islam. 3d ed. N.p., n.d. Translated by John B. Hardie as Social justice in Islam. Washington, D.C., 1955.
Ramadan, Abdel Aziz. “Fundamentalist Influence in Egypt: The Strategies of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Takfir Groups.” In Fundamentalisms and the State, edited by Martin Marty and R. Scott Appleby. Chicago, 1993
Sivan, Emmanuel. Radical Islam. New Haven, 1985. General comparison between the Egyptian and Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. Springborg, Robert. Mubarak’s Egypt: Fragmentation of the Political Order. Boulder, 1989. Section on Islamicist opposition analyzes its strengths and weaknesses, generally, and the factionalization of the Brotherhood, in particular.
Zuhur, Sherifa. Revealing Reveiling: Islamist Gender Ideology in Contemporary Egypt. Albany, N.Y., 1992. Important discussion of the Ikhwan’s attitudes toward a host of gender-specific issues, such as birth control, polygamy, divorce, female education, veiling, and associational activity.
DENIS J. SULLIVAN

MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD

[This entry comprises five articles:
An Overview
Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt
Muslim Brotherhood in Syria
Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan
Muslim Brotherhood in the Sudan

The introductory article provides an overview of the origin, ideological development, and geographical spread of the movement; the companion articles focus on four countries where the Muslim Brotherhood has played an active role in religious, social, and political life.]

An Overview
Founded in Isma’iliyah, Egypt, in 1928 by Hasan alBanna’ (1906-1949), the Muslim Brotherhood (alIkhwan al-Muslimun) is the parent body and the main source of inspriation for many Islamist organizations in Egypt and several other Arab countries, including Syria, Sudan, Jordan, Kuwait, Yemen, and some North African states. The movement was initially announced as a purely religious and philanthropic society that aimed to spread Islamic morals and good works. Its emergence, however, was part of a widespread reaction to various alarming developments that were sweeping through the Muslim world. The Arabs had been divided into spheres of influence by the European powers, and the attempted restoration of the caliphate, abolished in Turkey in 1924, failed in 1926. Western influence also appeared to be making serious inroads into the Islamic culture of the region. Not only did writers such as Salamah Musa and Taha Husayn propagate openly secularist ideas, but even some al-Azhar scholars adopted apparently Western approaches in analyzing “Islamic” issues, a trend that reached its most disconcerting point with the publication in 1925 of `All `Abd al-Raziq’s book on Islam and government in which he denied that Islam was in any way concerned with politics. [See the biographies of Husayn and `Abd al-Rdziq.]
As a teacher and gifted orator, al-Banna’ was able to attract to his movement various members of the local intelligentsia, as well as some artisans and a few workers. The Ikhwan became increasingly interested in public affairs, developing a distinctive conception of the comprehensiveness of Islam, which contrasted with that of both the established clergy and the existing conventional philanthropic charities. Al-Banna’ called for a total and activist Islam. He perceived the Islamic state as a significant ingredient of the desired Islamic order, but the Ikhwan leaders probably did not consider the assumption of political power an imminent possibility at the time. At such an early stage in the group’s formation and development, the tasks of moral reform (isldh alnufus) and of agreeing on an Islamic approach and “methodology” (minhdj Islami) must have appeared more appropriate for the requirements of that phase. Too much emphasis on government might also have subjected the society to even more official suspicion.
The Ikhwan did not identify itself as a political party, although it acted very much as if it were. Its activities began to acquire a distinct political character around 1938. The weekly Al-nadhir (The Warning) was started, and occasionally threatened to “fight any politician or organization that did not work for the support of Islam and the restoration of its glory.” Its concept of absolute obedience (al-ta’ah) to the leader and its tight organizational pattern, which linked the highest level of the Guidance Council to the most basic level of the usrah (“family” or cell) and included all the technical sections and committees as well as the consultative council, have been likened by some observers to those of fascist organizations.
By now the Ikhwan had more than three hundred branches advocating its ideas, although it had been careful so far not to antagonize the Palace, and to avoid confrontation with the British at any price, while building up its own organizational and paramilitary capacity. A special “secret apparatus” was established within the movement (its membership is believed to have reached 75,000 by 1947), and special “phalanges” were formed, sometimes under the guise of ranger scouts (jawwdlah). The Ikhwan also built its own companies, factories, schools, and hospitals, and infiltrated various organizations, including the trade unions and the armed forces, to such a degree that by the end of the 1940s it almost represented “a state within the State.” By this time it also had escalated terrorist attacks on British and Jewish interests in Egypt, in which many Egyptians were inevitably killed or injured. The government was forced to respond by dissolving the brotherhood; the confrontation between the two reached its peak late in 1948 and early in 1949 with the Ikhwan’s assassination of Prime Minister Mahmud Fahmi al-Nuqrashi and the government’s assassination of the leader of the Ikhwan, alBanna’ himself. Membership of the brotherhood had by now reached its peak, including nearly a half million active members (`udw `amil) and another half million sympathizers, spread among some 200,000 branches throughout Egypt.
New Political Emphasis. The disappearance of the charismatic leadership of al-Banna’ in 1949 and, more specifically, the confrontation between the Ikhwan and the new revolutionary regime in Egypt in the 1950s caused it to raise the “political” to a much higher rank within its order of concerns. It should be noted that the Muslim Brothers were no strangers to the Free Officers who launched the 1952 revolution. Their various contacts with the officers enabled them to escape the fate of dissolution after the coup, since they were classified as a “movement” or a “society,” not as a political party. Many brothers, including the new “general guide” (almurshid al-`amm) Hasan al-Hudaybi, seem to have hoped that given the affinity between the two movements, the Free Officers would be prepared to allow the Ikhwan direct participation in government after the revolution. When this hope was frustrated, relations between them deteriorated, resulting in two bloody confrontations (in 1954 and 1965), repeated imprisonment, and severe torture. It was this confrontational atmosphere that eventually effected a shift in the thinking of the Ikhwan associate Sayyid Qutb, a shift that subsequently colored the ideas of most of the regiments of radical political Islam in Egypt and the Arab world.
On a general ideological level, the detention of Qutb and his colleagues led to an overall revision of the movement’s thought, the major part of which now was affected by a hatred for the state and the regime. The Qutbian ideas that have come to influence most of the contemporary movements of political Islam are mainly the ones to be found in the writings he produced between his two periods of imprisonment. The key concept in this later Qutbian discourse is undoubtedly jahiliyah (total pagan ignorance). Inspired partly by Ibn Taymiyah but most specifically by Sayyid Abu al-A’la Mawdudi, and influenced by the fascist ideas of Alexis Carrel, Sayyid Qutb extracted this concept from any historical or geographical context, giving it a universal validity that covers all contemporary societies, Muslim ones included. The way out of such jahiliyah, as prescribed by Qutb, is also simple: a declaration of the total sovereignty and rulership of God (al-hakimiyah). Strongly affected by such ideas, the imprisoned brothers in their anguish and isolation and with the ever-present memory of their martyrs, were to create an alternative to Nasserism, a “counterproject” that reflected the maturation of the contradictions between the brotherhood and the Nasserist state (and, indeed, between Islamists and all similar “modernizing” projects such as Ba’thism and Bourguibism). This contradiction in fact has become, since the late 1970s, the main ideological confrontation in the Arab world. [See Nasserism and the biography of Qutb.]
From its inception, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt attracted a membership drawn principally from among the urban and recently urbanized afendiyah strata of lower- and middle-level officials, clerks and school teachers and from among the “traditional” artisans and merchants; from its beginning, too, it has had a fringe of professionals (lawyers, accountants, and doctors). In the 1940s, it managed to make serious inroads into the industrial proletariat. The splinter groups that have broken away from the brotherhood since the 1960s are characterized by their radicalism, their generally younger age, and a more scientific and technical slant in their educational backgrounds. A similar membership profile seems to characterize the brotherhood in other countries, although the relative importance of various social groups differs from one country to another, with, for example, the intelligentsia more heavily represented in a country like Jordan, the merchants and artisans in a country like Syria, and the students and professionals in a country like Sudan. However, the exact relationships, in terms of personnel, organization, and strategy, among the older Muslim Brotherhoods and the newer militant groups (often functioning under such names as Tanzim al-Jihad (The Jihad Organization) or Al-Jama’at al-Islamiyah (The Islamic Group) are far from entirely clear. [See Jama’at al-Islamiyah, al-.]
Pan-Arab Activities. Soon after its founding, the Muslim Brotherhood movement spread into the countries adjacent to Egypt; today it remains the main PanArab Islamic movement. Its basic charter stipulates that it is a “universal Islamic assembly” (hay’ah islamiyah jami`ah) rather than an Egyptian or even an Arab organization. It actively established branches from the mid1930S onward, following a number of working visits to Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere, and set up special tents in Mecca during the pilgrimage seasons in the 1940s and 1950s to greet, entertain, and convert pilgrim delegates from all over the Muslim world. Several Sudanese and other Arab students, attracted to the movement while studying in Egypt, carried their ideas back to their countries. A number of fellow associations were also established, initially not always under the same title of the Muslim Brothers. The Pan-Arab activities of the Ikhwan were stepped up during the Palestine War of 1948, to which it contributed with voluntary personnel. From that time onward, the Ikhwan did its best to give support to its fellow movements from other Arab countries when they came under persecution, an activity that was soon caught up in the dynamics of inter-Arab politics. For example, the Syrian brothers gave support to their Egyptian colleagues (and perhaps even acted as the main regional headquarters, under the leadership of Mustafa al-Siba`i) following the ordeal of the Egyptian Ikhwan in 1954. The Syrian brothers in turn received support from their Jordanian colleagues (and some say from the regime as well) after their ordeal at the hands of the Syrian government in 1981. The movement also had some appeal in North Africa, especially in Morocco (where it had close relations with the Istiqlal Party and with Muhammad `Allal al-Fasi), and was not completely unknown in Tunisia, Algeria (where it maintained cordial relations with the `ulama’) and in some regions of Sudan, Jordan, Kuwait, Yemen, and some North African states. The movement was initially announced as a purely religious and philanthropic society that aimed to spread Islamic morals and good works. Its emergence, however, was part of a widespread reaction to various alarming developments that were sweeping through the Muslim world. The Arabs had been divided into spheres of influence by the European powers, and the attempted restoration of the caliphate, abolished in Turkey in 1924, failed in 1926. Western influence also appeared to be making serious inroads into the Islamic culture of the region. Not only did writers such as Salamah Musa and Taha Husayn propagate openly secularist ideas, but even some al-Azhar scholars adopted apparently Western approaches in analyzing “Islamic” issues, a trend that reached its most disconcerting point with the publication in 1925, Of ‘Ali `Abd al-Raziq’s book on Islam and government in which he denied that Islam was in any way concerned with politics. [See the biographies of Husayn and `Abd al-Rdziq]
As a teacher and gifted orator, al-Banna’ was able to attract to his movement various members of the local intelligentsia, as well as some artisans and a few workers. The Ikhwan became increasingly interested in public affairs, developing a distinctive conception of the comprehensiveness of Islam, which contrasted with that of both the established clergy and the existing conventional philanthropic charities. Al-Banna’ called for a total and activist Islam. He perceived the Islamic state as a significant ingredient of the desired Islamic order, but the Ikhwan leaders probably did not consider the assumption of political power an imminent possibility at the time. At such an early stage in the group’s formation and development, the tasks of moral reform (isldh alnufus) and of agreeing on an Islamic approach and “methodology” (minhdj Islami) must have appeared more appropriate for the requirements of that phase. Too much emphasis on government might also have subjected the society to even more official suspicion.
The Ikhwan did not identify itself as a political party, although it acted very much as if it were. Its activities began to acquire a distinct political character around 1938. The weekly Al-nadhir (The Warning) was started, and occasionally threatened to “fight any politician or organization that did not work for the support of Islam and the restoration of its glory.” Its concept of absolute obedience (al-ta’ah) to the leader and its tight organizational pattern, which linked the highest level of the Guidance Council to the most basic level of the usrah (“family” or cell) and included all the technical sections and committees as well as the consultative council, have been likened by some observers to those of fascist organizations.
By now the Ikhwan had more than three hundred branches advocating its ideas, although it had been careful so far not to antagonize the Palace, and to avoid confrontation with the British at any price, while building up its own organizational and paramilitary capacity. A special “secret apparatus” was established within the movement (its membership is believed to have reached 75,000 by 1947), and special “phalanges” were formed, sometimes under the guise of ranger scouts (jawwalah). The Ikhwan also built its own companies, factories, schools, and hospitals, and infiltrated various organizations, including the trade unions and the armed forces, to such a degree that by the end of the 1940s it almost represented “a state within the State.” By this time it also had escalated terrorist attacks on British and Jewish interests in Egypt, in which many Egyptians were inevitably killed or injured. The government was forced to respond by dissolving the brotherhood; the confrontation between the two reached its peak late in 1948 and early in 1949 with the Ikhwan’s assassination of Prime Minister Mahmud Fahmi al-Nuqrashi and the government’s assassination of the leader of the Ikhwan, alBanna’ himself. Membership of the brotherhood had by now reached its peak, including nearly a half million active members (`udw `amil) and another half million sympathizers, spread among some 200,000 branches throughout Egypt.
New Political Emphasis. The disappearance of the charismatic leadership of al-Banna’ in 1949 and, more specifically, the confrontation between the Ikhwan and the new revolutionary regime in Egypt in the 1950s caused it to raise the “political” to a much higher rank within its order of concerns. It should be noted that the Muslim Brothers were no strangers to the Free Officers who launched the 1952 revolution. Their various contacts with the officers enabled them to escape the fate of dissolution after the coup, since they were classified as a “movement” or a “society,” not as a political party. Many brothers, including the new “general guide” (almurshid al-`amm) Hasan al-Hudaybi, seem to have hoped that given the affinity between the two movements, the Free Officers would be prepared to allow the Ikhwan direct participation in government after the revolution. When this hope was frustrated, relations between them deteriorated, resulting in two bloody confrontations (in 1954 and 1965), repeated imprisonment, and severe torture. It was this confrontational atmosphere that eventually effected a shift in the thinking of the Ikhwan associate Sayyid Qutb, a shift that subsequently colored the ideas of most of the regiments of radical political Islam in Egypt and the Arab world.
On a general ideological level, the detention of Qutb and his colleagues led to an overall revision of the movement’s thought, the major part of which now was affected by a hatred for the state and the regime. The Qutbian ideas that have come to influence most of the contemporary movements of political Islam are mainly the ones to be found in the writings he produced between his two periods of imprisonment. The key concept in this later Qutbian discourse is undoubtedly jdhihyah (total pagan ignorance). Inspired partly by Ibn Taymiyah but most specifically by Sayyid Abu al-A’la Mawdudi, and influenced by the fascist ideas of Alexis Carrel, Sayyid Qutb extracted this concept from any historical or geographical context, giving it a universal validity that covers all contemporary societies, Muslim ones included. The way out of such jahiliyah, as prescribed by Qutb, is also simple: a declaration of the total sovereignty and rulership of God (al-hakimiyah). Strongly affected by such ideas, the imprisoned brothers in their anguish and isolation and with the ever-present memory of their martyrs, were to create an alternative to Nasserism, a “counterproject” that reflected the maturation of the contradictions between the brotherhood and the Nasserist state (and, indeed, between Islamists and all similar “modernizing” projects such as Ba’thism and Bourguibism). This contradiction in fact has become, since the late 1970s, the main ideological confrontation in the Arab world. [See Nasserism and the biography of Qutb.]
From its inception, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt attracted a membership drawn principally from among the urban and recently urbanized afendiyah strata of lower- and middle-level officials, clerks and school teachers and from among the “traditional” artisans and merchants; from its beginning, too, it has had a fringe of professionals (lawyers, accountants, and doctors). In the 1940s, it managed to make serious inroads into the industrial proletariat. The splinter groups that have broken away from the brotherhood since the 1960s are characterized by their radicalism, their generally younger age, and a more scientific and technical slant in their educational backgrounds. A similar membership profile seems to characterize the brotherhood in other countries, although the relative importance of various social groups differs from one country to another, with, for example, the intelligentsia more heavily represented in a country like Jordan, the merchants and artisans in a country like Syria, and the students and professionals in a country like Sudan. However, the exact relationships, in terms of personnel, organization, and strategy, among the older Muslim Brotherhoods and the newer militant groups (often functioning under such names as Tanzim al-Jihad (The Jihad Organization) or Al-Jama’at al-Islamiyah (The Islamic Group) are far from entirely clear. [See Jama’at al-Islamiyah, al-.]
Pan-Arab Activities. Soon after its founding, the Muslim Brotherhood movement spread into the countries adjacent to Egypt; today it remains the main PanArab Islamic movement. Its basic charter stipulates that it is a “universal Islamic assembly” (hay’ah islamiyah jami’ah) rather than an Egyptian or even an Arab organization. It actively established branches from the mid1930s onward, following a number of working visits to Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere, and set up special tents in Mecca during the pilgrimage seasons in the 1940s and 1950s to greet, entertain, and convert pilgrim delegates from all over the Muslim world. Several Sudanese and other Arab students, attracted to the movement while studying in Egypt, carried their ideas back to their countries. A number of fellow associations were also established, initially not always under the same title of the Muslim Brothers. The Pan-Arab activities of the Ikhwan were stepped up during the Palestine War of 1948, to which it contributed with voluntary personnel. From that time onward, the Ikhwan did its best to give support to its fellow movements from other Arab countries when they came under persecution, an activity that was soon caught up in the dynamics of inter-Arab politics. For example, the Syrian brothers gave support to their Egyptian colleagues (and perhaps even acted as the main regional headquarters, under the leadership of Mustafa al-Siba’i) following the ordeal of the Egyptian Ikhwan in 1954 The Syrian brothers in turn received support from their Jordanian colleagues (and some say from the regime as well) after their ordeal at the hands of the Syrian government in 1981. The movement also had some appeal in North Africa, especially in Morocco (where it had close relations with the Istiqlal Party and with Muhammad `Allal al-Fasi), and was not completely unknown in Tunisia, Algeria (where it maintained cordial relations with the `ulama’) and in some regions of the Horn of Africa, such as Eritrea and Somalia. Sympathetic groups, with somewhat similar orientations, have also existed in places as far away as India, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and of course Pakistan where the Jama’at-i Islami shares the Ikhwan ideology. In cooperation with such organizations the Muslim Brothers are believed to exercise a certain degree of influence over the Islamic World Congress (Mu’tamar al`Alam al-Islami). [See Istiqlal; Jama’at-i Islami; and the biographies of Siba’i and Fasi.]
Government circles in several Arab countries believe that there exists at present a “Muslim Brotherhood International” that coordinates activities and finances among the various countries’ branches. According to unconfirmed reports, this organization’s structure includes, in addition to the highly authoritative position of the General Guide, a General Guidance Bureau (GGB, Maktab al-Irshad al-`Amm) and a General Consultative Council (GCC, Majlis al-Shura al-`Amm), both of which provide a distinct advantage to the Egyptian brothers. The members of the GGB are the Egyptian General Guide, eight more Egyptians, and one representative each from Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Algeria, and Kuwait, guaranteeing the Egyptian brothers an automatic majority. A similar pattern obtains in the GCC, the legislative branch of the organization, which has a minimum required membership of thirty: thirteen members from the personnel of the GGB, the guide himself and three persons appointed by him; three members from Syria, and two each from Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen; and one each from Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Lebanon, Somalia, Tunisia, Algeria, Europe, and the United States. In 1989 the GCC had thirty-eight members including twelve Egyptians and nine from the Gulf region; the Egyptians and the Gulf members (representing numerical weight and financial means) had an automatic majority within the Council.
Although meetings and exchanges among Ikhwan leaders from various countries certainly occur, and some transfer of funds likely takes place, the coordination of activities and finances is probably not as well planned and tightly executed as the authorities sometimes imply. For one thing, some of these movements (for example, in Sudan, Tunisia, and the Gaza Strip) have acquired a certain degree of autonomy in their intellectual and political outlook that noticeably distinguishes them from the conventional Muslim brothers’ position. Most of them (with the partial exception of Sudan) are underground or opposition movements that have sufficient problems of their own in their own territory. And though the possibility of some Saudi Arabian financing is sometimes mentioned, many of the brothers have acquired part of their financial resources through working personally in the Arabian oil-exporting countries. Furthermore, the Gulf crisis of 1990-1991 reportedly has led to further divisions, not only among the brotherhoods from various countries but sometimes within the Muslim Brotherhood movement of one country.
A relatively recent development has been the electoral success and the participation in government by Muslim Brother elements in a number of Arab countries (notably Egypt, Sudan, Jordan, and Kuwait). The main question that follows from this is: will such a measure of success turn the Muslim Brothers into a milder, “legal” political force that accepts the rules of the game within their specific countries, or will it prompt them into a more radical, Pan-Islamist line in the belief that the universal triumph of political Islam lies virtually at hand? [See also Pan-Islam and the biography of Banna’.]
BIBLIOGRAPHY
`Abd al-Halim, Mahmud. Al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun. 3 vols. Alexandria, 1979-1985. Very detailed account (including testimony) of the history of the brotherhood from 1928 to 1971, by a member of its Constitutive Body.
Ayubi, Nazih N. Political Islam: Religion and Politics in the Arab World. London and New York, 1991. Includes reviews of the political thought of al-Banna’, Qutb, and the Jihadists, and studies on the role of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Syria, the Sudan, Jordan, and other Arab countries.
Bayyumli, Zakanya S. Al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun wa al -Jama’at alIsldmiyah (The Muslim Brothers and the Islamic Groupings). Cairo, 1974. Good study, especially on the shades and multiplicity within the Brotherhood and its relations with other Islamic groups. Carre, Olivier, and Gerard Michaud. Les Freres Musulmans, 19281982. Paris, 1983. Good account of the brotherhood in Egypt and Syria.
Centre for Political and Strategic Studies. Al-Taqrir al-Istratiji al’Arabi (The Arab Strategic Report). Cairo, 1991. Part 2, section i.ii, includes a detailed account of the “Muslim Brotherhood International.”
Harris, Christina. Nationalism and Revolution in Egypt: The Role of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Hague, 1964. Useful study of the interplay between religious and secular influences in the development of Egyptian nationalism.
Husayni, Ishaq Musa al-. The Moslem Brethren. Translated by John F. Brown et al. Beirut, 1956. Useful, detailed study, although now somewhat dated.
Mitchell, Richard P. The Society of the Muslim Brothers. London,1969. Still the best account of the brotherhood in Egypt to the mid-1950S.
Naftsi, `Abd Allah F. al-. Al-harakah al-Islamiyah (The Islamic Movement). Cairo, 1989. Analysis and self-critique by a Kuwaiti Islamist of the aspects of unity and division within the Islamic movement in the Arab world.
Zahmul, Ibrahim. Al-Ikhwdn al-Muslimun: Awraq tarikhiyah (The Muslim Brotherhood: Historical Papers). N.p., 1985. Sympathetic account with useful material and some information on the brotherhood outside Egypt.
NAZIH N. AYUBI

next:Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt

MUSIC

MUSIC. Music of the Islamic world can be studied from a wide variety of perspectives, as a historical legacy extending back to the middle ages and antiquity, as a performing art, as a branch of science, and as a medium of spiritual devotion. In the Middle East, its domain spreads throughout North Africa and eastward to include the Arabian Peninsula, Arab countries east of the Mediterranean, Turkey, and Iran. Furthermore, certain patterns of musical culture can be found in various parts of the Islamic world, including countries of the African Sudanic regions, Central Asia, Pakistan, and North India. For more than a millennium, Islamic ways of life have provided a framework for the creative contributions of individuals from diverse ethnic, racial, and religious backgrounds.
Musical outlooks have been influenced by Islamic beliefs and institutions. Although the Qur’an contains no strictures against music, the hadith, which consists of sayings attributed to the prophet Muhammad and his companions, presents numerous statements that caution against music and musical instruments. In Islamic history, however, music has played an extensive role and emerged as an art form of extraordinary popularity and significance. To begin with, the formal strictures appear to have addressed music primarily as a secular profession, thus exempting the various folk and ritualistic expressions, including religious genres, generally considered outside the domain of “music” proper. Furthermore, music acquired special recognition and prestige through medieval court patronage. Following the Muslims’ exposure to ancient Greek philosophy, science, and cosmology, music also developed as a speculative branch of knowledge, `ilm al-musiqa, literally “science of music.” Meanwhile, music gained distinct prominence and spiritual meaning through the practices of the various Sufi, or mystical Islamic, orders.
In Middle Eastern life, folk music appears in a wide variety of regional contexts. Throughout history, music has been incorporated into religious festivals and used in conjunction with manual labor and events associated with the human life cycle, including birth, circumcision, and marriage. Today, folk musical expressions, although often connected with social and religious events and with dance, differ in terms of performance style, instrumentation, and textual subject matter. Examples are: the group-performed fjiri, or pearl-diving songs of the Arabian Gulf; the heroic and love-related songs of the sha’ir, or bedouin nomadic poet-singer, who accompanies himself on the rababah, a single-string upright fiddle; and the Anatolian asik, or bard, who performs songs of moral and devotional themes while accompanying himself on the saz, a long-necked plucked lute. A further example is the music played on a large doublesided drum and an oboe type of wind instrument, together known in Turkey as davul and zurna and in some Arab countries as tabl and zamr. In many Middle Eastern communities, this combination accompanies folk dance, particularly at village weddings. Also songs, as well as dramatic representations, appear in the ta’ziyah, or passion play, held during the Islamic month of
Muharram in Shi`i communities, for example in Iran, Iraq, and India, to commemorate the martyrdom of early religious saints.
Islamic liturgical and devotional forms with musical components are numerous. As a rule, Qur’anic chanting, or the reciting of the divine text of the Qur’an, is soloistic, unmetered, governed by established rules of enunciation (`ilm al-tajwid), and melodically improvised, usually in accordance with the tradition of melodic modes, known as maqdmdt (sg., magdm) in certain parts of the Arab world. In the adhdn, or “call-toprayer,” traditionally performed from minarets to announce the daily times of prayer, the text is usually delivered in a stylized, semi-improvised, melodic format.
Islamic mysticism, which became prevalent throughout the Islamic world since the thirteenth century CE, has generally treated music and dance as vehicles for spiritual transcendence. Expounded by early Sufi scholars such as Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (1058-1111), the notion of spiritual music as a mode of attaining divine ecstasy was expressed through the concept and practice of sama`, literally “listening,” or “auditioning.” Today, music and dance constitute essential components within the rituals of various Sufi sects. In many cases, the liturgies incorporate sections of dhikr, literally “remembrance” or “reiteration,” in which religious phrases repeated by the chorus form an ostinato, or repeated pattern, that accompanies vocal improvisations and precomposed hymns, as well as rhythmic body movement. Meanwhile, the Mevlevi order, established by Jaldl alDin Rum! in Konya, Turkey in the early thirteenth century, is particularly known for its elaborate musical performances, the use of musical instruments such as the ney, or reed flute, and a type of religious dance consisting of circular motion, or “whirling.” In India and Pakistan, Sufi-related musical expressions include the Urdu ghazal, and the qawwali. These and other comparable genres are often performed by highly skilled and widely admired vocalists. In addition to these religious expressions, there are numerous liturgical and semiliturgical traditions belonging to various non-Islamic communities, for example, Christian groups such as the Copts of Egypt, Maronites of Lebanon, and Assyrians of Iraq, and Jews from different parts of the Middle East.
In the realm of secular music, certain traits appear widely prevalent, although tend to vary in detail and application from one context to another. Generally speaking, the melodic component is highly intricate and embraces distinct embellishments, such as the tahrir, commonly used by Iranian classical singers. The textures include solo, unison, octave-doubling, the occasional use of a drone or ostinato for accompaniment, and heterophony (when subtle differences in detail are created within two or more coexisting, essentially similar, parts). Specific melodic intervals are recognized and applied, including certain types of whole-tones, halftones, and “neutral-tones,” or microtonal steps created when notes are partially flattened or sharpened. Intervals are measured in various ways. In Turkey, for example, the comma (roughly one-ninth of a Pythagorean whole-step) is used as a unit for determining the size of scalar intervals. Melodic modes, namely schemes encompassing individual scales, notes of emphasis, and usually general modalities of execution, serve as foundations for precomposition and improvisation in many traditions in the Middle East, Central Asia, and India. In the case of the Arab maqdm and Turkish makam modal systems, a musician, for example when performing an instrumental improvisation (taqsim in Arab music and taksim in Turkish music) may shift between modes in the middle of a performance. In the case of the Iranian dastgah, the performance (for example, an improvisatory dvdz) may pass through gushes, namely inner, or subsidiary, modes that are intrinsic to each of the twelve dastgahs and are part of the entire radif, or recognized modal repertoire. With some exceptions, modal improvisations in various Islamic traditions are nonmetric, in other words, not bound by regular-beat structures.
The rhythmic component is usually organized in terms of patterns, or modes. A rhythmic mode, or meter, incorporates a specific number of beats and rests. As illustrated by regional variants, such as the mizdn in the Andalusian, or Moorish derived, music of Morroco, the Arab iqa`, and the Turkish usul, rhythmic patterns are traditionally played on percussion instruments and serve as building frameworks for metric compositions, such as the Ottoman classical instrumental pesrev and the vocal beste. Meanwhile, compound, or “suitelike,” forms are very common. As illustrated by the North African Andalusian nawbah, the Turkish fasil, and the Iraqi maqam, such forms traditionally consist of individual sections that share the same melodic mode but differ in such areas as rhythm and structure.
Musical instruments similarly reflect patterns of consistency and variety. Numerous types of reed flutes, double reeds (oboes), fiddles, plucked lutes, cylindrical and frame drums can be found throughout the Islamic world. At the same time, the `ud (lute), qanun (zither), and ndy (flute) are typical of urban centers, particularly in Arab countries and Turkey. In Ottoman classical music, we encounter such instruments as the tanbur (longnecked fretted lute) and kemence (upright fiddle). Typical of the Iranian classical ensemble, however, are the santur (hammer-dulcimer), the tdr and the setar (both long-necked lutes), the kamanchah (upright spikefiddle), the ney (reed flute), and the dumbak (hand drum). Further variety is represented by such instruments as the Afghani rubab, a plucked lute which, like the North Indian sarod, has sympathetic, or unplucked resonating, strings and a face partially covered with skin. Meanwhile, a relatively recent acquisition, namely the Western violin, is fully adapted to local idioms and is prevalent throughout the urban Islamic world.
During the last two centuries increased contact with the West generated new interest in music as a “fine art” and led to the gradual assimilation of Western musical concepts and techniques. In Egypt, following the Napoleonic conquest (1798-1801), Muhammad `Ali (r. 18051848), founder of the Khedive dynasty, established military schools in which Europeans taught military-band instruments according to Western methods of instruction. Later on, Khedive Isma’il (r. 1863-1879), who sponsored Egyptian local celebrities such as `Abduh alHamuli (1843-1901), built the Cairo Opera House and invited foreign ensembles to Cairo, where Verdi’s Rigoletto was presented in 1869, followed by Aida in 1871. In Turkey, Sultan Mahmud II (r. 1808-1839) abolished the Janissary army, and by extension the mehter, or the indigenous military-band tradition, and brought in Western composers to teach Western military-band instruments in Turkish military schools. Such efforts to assimilate European cultural and artistic models continued throughout the nineteenth century. Comparable importations of Western culture occurred in Persia, where the French Alfred J. B. Lemaire (1842-1902) established a musical institution for teaching Western military-band instruments. By the turn of the century, a number of influential Middle Eastern composers, theorists, and music educators were already well versed in European music theory, notation, and conservatorybased pedagogical methods.
The twentieth century witnessed further and more extensive musical developments. Governments in various parts of the Islamic world continued the process of modernization and europeanization, an example being the systematic efforts of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1881-1938), the first president of the Turkish republic, to outlaw Sufi orders, to ban Ottoman classical music, and to encourage folk and Western-derived musical forms. Meanwhile, the modern mass media made a tremendous impact upon the various musical traditions. In the first decade of the century, sound recording led to a growing mass audience in Cairo, Istanbul, and other Middle Eastern cities, and to the rise of new popular musical forms. Also the popularity of the musical theater in early twentieth-century Egypt and the musical film, first appearing in Cairo in 1932, led to the development of new musical expressions, for example the short eclectic film-songs of Muhammad `Abd al-Wahhab (c. 1901-1991). Later, the expanding domain of radio in the mid1930s, the rise of L.P., and, even later, cassette recording, enhanced the broad dissemination of music, for example, recordings of live concerts by Egypt’s recording celebrities such as Umm Kulthum (c. 19041975). In later decades studio recording contributed further to the creation of new styles, sonorities, and orchestral blends. Moreover, in large cities such as Istanbul, Damascus, and Cairo, older compositions are sometimes performed by large modern ensembles with mixed choruses and large accompanying orchestras. Also, Western-trained composers have created symphonic works in which indigenous folk themes are incorporated. Meanwhile, the last few decades have witnessed a significant degree of musical interaction among the various cultures of the Islamic world. For example, Cairo’s urban musical model, with its lush orchestration, multilayered unison and octave texture, and characteristic intonation, has been emulated in various urban traditions in North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and the East Mediterranean world. Furthermore, Cairo’s influence is distinctly apparent in the arabesk, Turkey’s newly developed and extremely popular urban genre. Other categories, however, use Western, particularly electronic, instruments and musical techniques somewhat prominently, for example the Algerian rat, whose appeal has extended to musical audiences in Europe and North America.
[See also Devotional Music.]
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Farhat, Hormoz. The Dastgah Concept in Persian Music. Cambridge, 1990. Thorough and systematic explanation of the twelve Iranian melodic modes on the basis of current theory and performance practice.
Farmer, Henry George. A History of Arabian Music to the XIIIth Century. London, 1929; reprint, 1973. Classic historical work on the music of medieval Islam by a major and highly prolific writer on the subject.
Farmer, Henry George. “The Music of Islam.” In The New Oxford History of Music, edited by Egon Wellesz, vol. I, pp. 421-477. London, 1957. Detailed coverage of both music theory and practice in medieval Islam.
Nelson, Kristina. The Art of Reciting the Qur’an. Austin, 1985. Picneering and well-documented study of Qur’anic chanting based on fieldwork in Egypt.
Nettl, Bruno. The Radif of Persian Music: Studies of Structure and Cultural Context. Champaign, Ill., 1987. The most detailed and encompassing work on Persian music and musical culture by a wellknown ethnomusicologist and expert in the area.
Racy, Ali Jihad. “Music in Contemporary Cairo: A Comparative Overview.” Asian Music 13 (1981): 4-26. Penetrating analysis of music and musical attitudes in modern Cairo, with special reference to other Middle Eastern cities.
Racy, Ali Jihad. “Creativity and Ambience: an Ecstatic Feedback Model from Arab Music.” The World of Music 33 (1991): 7-28. First-hand study of how traditional Arab musicians perform, with specific reference to improvisation, creativity, and the ecstatic state experienced by performers and initiated listeners.
Sadie, Stanley, ed. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. New York, 198o. Authoritative and extensive multivolume reference work. Includes entries, often several pages long, on the music of various Middle Eastern countries, ethnic groups, instruments, and genres written by different musical experts.
Signell, Karl. Makam: Modal Practice in Turkish Art Music. Seattle, 1977. Rare, in-depth discussion in English of the modal music theory of Turkey.
ALIJIHAD RACY